SIMSBURY, July 1, 2013 – It was a tense evening of softball in the District 6 championship game Monday night at Memorial Field. After four innings, host Simsbury trailed Avon by two runs and had just two hits.
In the bottom of the sixth, Simsbury trailed by a run with two outs.
But Simsbury strung together three straight singles to rally and beat Avon, 4-3, in a thriller for the Major Division softball championship in the District 6 tournament. With its second D6 title in the last three years, Simsbury earned a spot in the state Section II tournament that begins Friday in Norwich.
Avon (5-3) went home just one out shy of winning its first-ever D6 tournament.
“I couldn’t be any more prouder,” Simsbury manager Dom Statile said. “It was the most exciting softball game I’ve seen at this level in a long time. Hats off to Avon. They are a tough team and they battled us.”
The two teams played four games in the tournament and three were decided by one run. Avon handed Simsbury its first loss of the tournament earlier this week with a 7-6 victory, scoring five runs in the sixth inning and holding off a Simsbury rally.
On Monday, Avon led 2-0 going into the fifth inning but Simsbury loaded the bases with no outs thanks to an error, a single from Erin Choi and a walk. Simsbury tied the game on a pair of infield ground ball outs from Becca Jano and Kareena Geno.
Avon took a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth. Pitcher Paige Noland led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a ground ball out and scored on an error.
In the bottom of the sixth, Simsbury’s Olivia Statile reached base on an error and moved to second base. Avon first baseman Jillian Haworth hurt her shoulder on the play and had to leave the game, forcing several Avon players to move to new positions, including Anisa Patel, who moved from center field to right field.
The next hitter, Simsbury’s Emma Banulski, had a sharp hit to Patel. But Patel moved in quickly, scooped up the ball and threw out Banulski at first base for the first out of the inning. Statile moved to third base, 90 feet from tying thegame.
Norland got the next batter to fly out to Avon second baseman Kayla Bucci for the second out. But Meghan Stepka hit a low, soft line drive that Bucci raced to her left to try and grab. Bucci nearly caught it but the ball fell to the wet grass and Statile raced home to tie the game at 3-3.
Choi followed with a single to center field as Stepka moved to second base. Each moved up a base on a passed ball. Stepka scored the game-winning run on a single from Brooke Wilkin to left field.
“The girls all have that fighting instinct,” Dom Statile said.
On Sunday night, Simsbury forced the decisive contest by scoring six runs on five hits in the fifth inning to erase a one-run lead and beat Avon, 9-4. It was the first loss for Avon in the double-elimination portion of the tournament.
Avon came out strong Monday night. Aimee Carrier led off the game with a single, stole second base, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a RBI double from Natalie Noland.
Avon made it 2-0 in the third inning when Carrier singled, stole second base, moved to third on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly from Paige Noland.
Paige Noland did a masterful job on the mound. She scattered six hits, struck out one and walked just one batter. She received plenty of help from her defense, including a key catch from Jessie Alessio in right field in the fourth inning and an outfield assist from Bucci.
Bucci played most of the game in centerfield and in the fourth, she picked up a single from Statile and threw out a Simsbury runner at second base who overran the bag. Avon second baseman Maddie Carlone made the tag.
Carrier had two hits for Avon while Paige and Natalie Noland each had doubles and one RBI.
For Simsbury, Choi had two hits. On the mound, Banulski allowed just four hits and struck out eight. She walked just one batter. Simsbury won its sixth D6 championship and its first since 2011. Players in the Major Division tournaments are 11 or 12 years old.
Simsbury 4, Avon 3
Avon (5-3) 101 001 – 3-4-2
Simsbury (7-1) 000 022 – 4-6-2
Paige Noland and Jordan Blackington; Emma Banulski and Grace Hare; 2B: P. Noland (A), N. Noland (A); 3B: none; HR: none; SAC: P. Noland (A)
2013 District 6 Major Division softball tournament
Round-robin portion (4 games each)
Simsbury 11, Tri-Town 1
Simsbury 12, Burlington 2
Simsbury 20, Thomaston 5
Simsbury 4, Avon 3
Granby 10, Thomaston 0
Granby 16, Tri-Town 0
Granby 17, Canton 2
Granby 8, Torrington 2
Avon 13, Canton 3
Avon 13, Torrington 3
Avon 8, Tri-Town 4
Burlington 16, Torrington 4
Burlington 19, Thomaston 7
Canton 12, Burlington 4
Torrington 15, Thomaston 7
Tri-Town 6, Canton 4
Standings: Simsbury 4-0, Granby 4-0, Avon 3-1, Burlington 2-2, Torrington 1-3, Canton 1-3, Tri-Town 1-3, Thomaston 0-4
Double elimination playoffs
Avon 7, Simsbury 6
Avon 8, Granby 7
Simsbury 8, Granby 0
Simsbury 9, Avon 4
Championship: Simsbury 4, Avon 3
Recent D6 softball champions